11 Mar (NucNet): Bulgarian state energy company NEK announced today the start of an investor selection procedure for the two-unit Belene nuclear power station project.
NEK said it is looking for an investor for the construction of Belene with options to take a minority stake in a future project company or purchase electricity to be generated by the facility.
The purpose of the call for interest is to gather information about potential candidates, a statement said.
NEK said Bulgaria will participate in the project company by contributing assets including the licensed site, nuclear island equipment, permits and documentation.
According to the call for interest, the station must be operational within 10 years from the signing of an investors’ agreement and its cost must not exceed €10bn for both units.
NEK reiterated Bulgaria’s position that Belene must be built on a market basis, without state guarantees or long-term electricity purchase contracts.
The company said Bulgaria would reserve the right to a veto on “certain matters”, but gave no further details.
The call for interest will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and candidates will have 90 days to apply, NEK said. The deadline for completing the procedure is 12 months.
In 2008, Bulgaria ordered two Russian VVER-1000 pressurised water reactor units for Belene, but the project was cancelled in 2012 because of financial and political considerations.
In June 2018, the government formally revived the project following a vote in parliament.
A 2016 arbitration settlement had awarded Bulgaria most of the nuclear equipment already produced by Russia for Belene under the 2008 agreement.
France’s Framatome, China’s CNNC, Russia’s Rosatom and US-based General Electric have already formally expressed an interest in investing or providing equipment and services for Belene. Talks have also been held with South Korea’s Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power.
Bulgarian officials have said that if Bulgaria goes ahead with the Belene project Russia’s Atomstroyexport will be the main contractor.